Posted in Challenges and Contests, Flash Fiction Pieces, Parenting, Story a Day May Challenge, Writers' Resources, Writing in Freedom, Writing Samples

Rainbow Sprinkles for Story A Day May; Day Ten

Public Courtesy Warning: This story has some adult language and references, and might not be suitable for work or reading where younger kids might peek over your shoulder.

“Rainbow Sprinkles”

“Tell me a story.”

Marilyn knows she’s begging. She knows she’s acting like a child, making her own sister – her younger sister – take care of her.

And it wasn’t even like Ophelia is really and truly her sister. She’s only half – because Dear Old Daddy couldn’t keep it the hell in his pants or boardshorts, or whatever the hell it was they wore in fucking Hawaii, where he’d told Mom he had “business” – but the “business” turned out to be putting his into Ophelia’s Mom’s, even though he was already married and had a little girl he pretty much ignored…

Maybe Ophelia needs to pay for that. Maybe it’s only fair.

Maybe Marilyn doesn’t even care.

“Tell me a story!” She demands it this time.

“What kind of story?” Ophelia sounds so damned sweet, but it was her who took Dear Old Dad away from her. And Mom, too. What Marilyn is now – that’s her fault. If she’d never been born, Mom never would have known.

Life would be perfect.

“One that’s sweet and romantic and has a happy ending.” If she can’t get perfect one way, she’ll get it another.

“All right….let me think….okay, there’s this girl on the beach. She’s young – your age, I guess. Maybe a little younger. Say between you and me. She’s happy – she’s just out of school for the summer, and she got really good grades. She’s got two weeks off before she starts her summer job, and she’s going to meet a friend on the beach for ice cream cones, something they do the last day every year.”

Ophelia stops, her eyes closed. Marilyn can’t tell if she’s making it up, remembering something she’s heard about, telling her own story, or even if she’s fallen asleep. She nudges the other girl with her foot. “What comes next?”

“Oh – sorry. I got distracted. Okay, where were we? Well, her friend was late. She’d just gotten her license, see, and she had a minor accident. Nobody was hurt, and she just dinged her bumper, but it made her late enough to get stuck in traffic – lots of other people had the same idea about that beach that day.

“So this girl was alone. Her friend said she should go ahead and have ice cream; she wasn’t going to feel like company once she got out of this mess. She was disappointed, but that’s what she did, because her friend said that’s what would make her happiest.

“She’s just gotten a double scoop pistachio – her favorite – with extra rainbow sprinkles. Those aren’t her favorite – but they are her best friend’s, and it feels like a nice way to include her and brighten up the day.”

“She’s had exactly three licks and one nibble before someone bumps her from behind – a little boy in a hurry to get his own end-of-school-year treat.”

Ophelia goes quiet again – Marilyn jumps a little. She forgot it was just a story – her sister is a really good storyteller. She can taste the ice cream cold and smooth, the pistachios natural and an earthy counterpoint to the mild sweet, and the strangeness of the rainbow sprinkles that would of course go everywhere…

“Then what happpens?”

“The little boy bumps her, and her cone jolts right out of her hand – and lands upside down on the foot of a sandaled boy. She’s so embarrassed, she wants to run away, but she’s too polite to do that while he’s wearing her ice cream. So she looks up at him – and he’s the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen. And he’s smiling at her. She manages to mumble that she’s sorry, but he just laughs, and bends down to help her clean up the mess of ice cream. The rainbow sprinkles are everywhere – and, when their hands touch, it’s magic.

“Once they’ve cleaned up as much as they can, he buys her a new cone, and they talk and talk and talk – all night, and into the next morning, without ever leaving the beach.” Ophelia makes a little swipe at her eye. “He calls her ‘The Pot of Gold at the End of The Rainbow Sprinkles.”

“And did they live happily ever after?”

Ophelia sighs. She opens her eyes, but they’re still faraway, on a beach somewhere. “Let’s say they did. That every day was as sweet as that ice cream, and the nickname.”

That’s when Marilyn knows.

Her sister’s not making up a story.

That’s how Ophelia’s Mom met Dear Old Dad.

Is Marilyn right about Ophelia’s story?

How close to the truth is the story?

What happens next?

Any guesses?

Come back tomorrow for another installment, and we can explore this new story seed together!

Posted in Challenges and Contests, Flash Fiction Pieces, Story a Day May Challenge, Writers' Resources, Writing in Freedom, Writing Samples

Playing With Her Dolls for Story A Day May; Day Nine

Public Courtesy Warning: This story edges into adult territory, and might not be suitable for work or reading where younger kids might peek over your shoulder.

Playing With Her Dolls

Marilyn is playing with her dolls again.

“There’s our nun in her wimple. Doesn’t she look stunning?”

She looks at Ophelia, and seems to need some kind of answer, so Ophelia plays along. “Is a nun supposed to look stunning?”

No answer from Marilyn. She dances the naked, wimpleless nun toward another doll. “And this one’s a man in a cowboy hat, and boots – and nothing else. He works at a strip club, and the nun in the wimple – she’s Sister Sarah, see? – she can’t decide if she wants him or wants to save him. What do you think?”

Ophelia thinks maybe her sister is more than a little crazy, and that maybe she shouldn’t be here all alone, trying to handle the seemingly endless succession of trips – Marilyn will take anything, anytime, and she seems to always have something. Ophelia’s in over her head, here, and she knows it.

But she can’t say that to Marilyn.

“I think it depends.”

“On what?”

“Lots of things. Whether she’s into men. Whether she’s into God more than men. Whether she’s worried that she will go to hell if she’s with him.”

It’s usually best to play along, at least so long as Marilyn isn’t hurting herself. That’s what they said when she refused to stay in rehab, anyway.

It works, this time. Marilyn smiles. “She’s into men. Really, really into them. Waaay more than she’s into God, matter of fact. And she wants him – because she can see right off what he’s packing down south. And she makes him point it due north.” She giggles and mimes an erection as tall as the “man.”
Ophelia wants to get her into psychiatric care, or, if that won’t work, maybe even have her arrested – that’s what’s best for the baby, maybe.

Except that it’s already too late for the baby. That’s what the doctors say, anyway. “No chance of a normal life.”

Not that Marilyn’s life has been normal.

“And it’s a rainy night.” Her sister mimes a downpour now. She’s sitting cross-legged on the bed, her face totally earnest, like she’s a little girl of maybe four years old – a little girl with a very dirty mind. “So, they’re at this tavern, where the barkeep has a handlebar mustache with a red and white polka-dotted tie.”

“And then what happens?” The baby is a lost cause – but Marilyn won’t even talk about the baby, or being pregnant. It’s like she’s getting younger as her belly grows rounder and rounder.

“Don’t you know?” She grins mischievously at Ophelia.

“Nope.”

“The two of them sneak of to a corner booth. See? It’s really dark, and the booth is big.” The two dolls go off to a corner of the bed, and then the “cowboy” climbs on top of the “nun in the wimple” – who certainly doesn’t seem to be taking her vows seriously. “And then they get busy.”

“And what about the barkeep?” Ophelia tries not to focus on the ragdoll love, but Marilyn’s doing all the sound effects, and that makes it all but impossible.

“Oh. Him. Well, he’s not really in this story.”

Ophelia sits and watches as Marilyn plays her little-girl games with the libido of a grown woman – and a part of her wishes that she wasn’t really in this story, either.

What’s wrong with the baby?

Why doesn’t Ophelia have any help with her?

What’s next?

Any guesses?

Come back tomorrow for another installment, and we can explore this new story seed together!

Posted in Challenges and Contests, Flash Fiction Pieces, Story a Day May Challenge, Writers' Resources, Writing in Freedom, Writing Samples

Secret in a Box for Story A Day May; Day Eight


Secret in a Box (in its 66 word entirety):

Marilyn keeps her secret in its box, tucked under the cushion of her couch. None of the housekeepers ever come in here; she makes sure they won’t ever want to.

Her secret is safe as safe can be – until a week later, when Anna serves eggplant parmesan. Though it’s her very favorite, Marilyn can’t eat. Before she can leave the table, she vomits out her secret.

What is Marilyn’s secret?

What happens next?

Any guesses?

Come back tomorrow for another installment, and we can explore this new story seed together!

Posted in Challenges and Contests, Flash Fiction Pieces, Story a Day May Challenge, Writers' Resources, Writing in Freedom, Writing Samples

“Want to Talk About It?” for Story A Day May; Day Seven

 

“Want to Talk About It?”

“Ophelia Martin – no, it can’t be you, can it?”

The voice jerked her head up from the bin of camisoles and panties she’d been fishing through. There was something familiar in it – and in the face of the girl, about her own age, who was staring at her like she simply didn’t compute.

“I’m Ophelia.” She dropped the intimate apparel, thankful for a complexion that didn’t exactly reveal a blush. None of the things she’d been holding would come close to fitting her. “I’m sorry, Miss – ”

“You don’t remember me.”

She was opening her mouth to try to deny it when the other girl laughed, her aquamarine eyes sparking – and that, and the sound of her laughter, gave her identity away, even if it seemed incredibly coincidental that they would end up in the same Ohio town, in the lingerie section of the same department store, at the same time.

“Lucy Prior!”

“Yup. Didn’t mean to embarrass you at the underwear bin, but I was afraid if I waited -” She mimed a ‘whoosh’.

“It’s okay. These aren’t for me, anyway…” Ophelia trailed off; she had no idea how to explain Marilyn, and her problems, or even if she should.

“Someone’s in trouble.” Lucy wasn’t asking, or guessing.

“How do you always know? Even when we haven’t seen each other for – what, six or seven years?”

“Want to get a smoothie once you’re done here, and talk it out?” Lucy had a way of answering questions with questions. “I’m buying.”

“I don’t think I can – not now.” Ophelia didn’t want to refuse. Marilyn needed pretty much everything. All of her clothes were so loose, they were practically falling off her, everywhere but her swollen belly. Maybe she should be in the maternity department –

“Whoever’s the one in trouble, you’re not going to be as much help if you make your whole life about tending to her needs. Now, there’s no use arguing with me – not when you know I know what I’m talking about here. Come on – let me help you, for old time’s sake, and then we can take a break and catch up. I’ll call my aunt; don’t want her to worry.”

Ophelia had almost forgotten what a force of nature Lucy was. Some things apparently didn’t change – even an alcoholic mother and absent father hadn’t crushed her will.

Wait. Lucy had lived through that – could she have insights that would help Ophelia to help Marilyn?

“All right,” she said. She wouldn’t ask anything unless it felt right – but Lucy did have a point. She’d spent the last three days pretty much consumed by what Marilyn needed, scarcely even taking the time to eat. Sleep eluded her every time she tried, because she just had nightmares where Marilyn was back in that lump on her daybed, surrounded by rag dolls, wearing her own blood and nothing else. “But let’s do it now – I need to stop and think about what still needs to be done; my brain’s too fried right now.”

She let Lucy lead her to the smoothie place, and sank into a chair as Lucy went up to order. She was suddenly aware that she was beyond fatigued, basically running on autopilot. She didn’t even care what Lucy brought her; she was pretty sure she was too tired to even taste it.

Her old friend came back with a tray bearing smoothies and soft pretzels – one of their favorite cheap treats, back in the sixth grade, when all they had were their allowances – and Lucy’s mom often forgot that. “Thank you.”

“It’s nice to be able to even the score a little. You spent a lot of allowance on me, after all.” There was a companionable silence, as they opened straws, sipped, and chewed. Then, once they were both settled, Lucy looked at Ophelia and said, “Okay, old friend. Want to talk about it?”

Does Ophelia want to talk?

Can Lucy help Ophelia?

Can Ophelia help Marilyn?

Any guesses?

Come back tomorrow for another installment, and we can explore this new story seed together!

Posted in Challenges and Contests, Flash Fiction Pieces, Story a Day May Challenge, Stream of Consciousness Saturday, Writers' Resources, Writing in Freedom, Writing Samples

Getting Emotional for #SoCS and #StaD May; Day Six

Hello there, and welcome to my Story a Day May “Show My Work” post! This is where I give you a sneak peek into how I’m creating two (very short, and very different) stories, every day this May. Yep, that’s right; less than 24 hours from my first reading of the prompt to a committed story, even if I’m not quite that fast at posting them!

Ready to read?

Well then, what are we waiting for?

Story A Day May 6 prompt,  by writer, writing coach, and international speaker Angela Ackerman:

Emotional trauma is an experience, or set of experiences, that can change your character in fundamental ways, altering their personality, embedding fears in their minds, affecting their ability to connect and trust others, and steering their needs and desires during your story.

Write about a wounding experience from your character’s past that changed them into who they are today.

HINT: most wounding experiences involve someone close to the character as it is the people closest to us who are able to do the most psychological damage.

For emotional wound ideas, try this list.

Additionally, this is my entry into Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday for this week. This week’s prompt is “inter”, used however we wish.

I’m doing things a bit differently this week. I have two stories linked from this post; both fit the prompt, so I’m submitting this master post, so that you can choose one, both, or neither, as you wish!

Main Project Premise:

  • Marilyn goes outside to smoke a cigarette – she’s messed up again and wants out of the strangling, smothering house – and finds her mother dead on the front porch.

Fleshing Out the Premise:

  • Marilyn is on a great trip, and she wants a cigarette. But Mom forbids smoking, and the damned cook can smell it anywhere in the house, and she’ll tattle to Mom any chance she gets. So Marilyn heads outside with her clove – and opens the front door to find Mom sprawled there – cold and dead.

Favorite Bit of Trip Interrupted:

Here, with a mother who wants nothing to do with her, because, “You remind me of that ass I married, who thought tropical waters were just fine to take a dip into.”

She wished Mom wouldn’t talk like that, when she was little. But, now – now that she was growing up, Mom said she looked just like her damned father, sounded just like her damned father.

How is she supposed to not be like a father she can’t remember even ever having seen? A father who was gone out of her life before she was three years old?

Standard disclaimer. I don’t own them, I don’t profit from them, but they insist on telling me their stories, so I’m sharing them with you.

Side Project Premise:

  • Soval is a young man upon the Forge when, offered Vulcan’s rarest gift, he hesitates, and the opportunity is forever lost.

Word List:

  • Serenity

  • Magnetic Resonance

  • Obsidian

  • Sandstone

  • Superfluous

  • Entropy

  • Tantalize

  • Taboo

  • Intercede

  • Withdrawal

This story follows directly after the previous Soval chapter, “Put Your Eyebrow Down”. And there’s no premise development because, when I went to write one, I ended up writing the drabble instead!

And so I offer you...Logical Withdrawal, in its entirety:

“You believe the accusations false.”

“It doesn’t square with what I know about him.”

“There is logically much about any individual that remains unknown to others.” Soval remembered – The serenity of night on the Forge, T’Khut a magnetic resonance above, reflections diffracted by obsidian; absorbed by sandstone.

Superfluous beauty, because he feels the plant germinate, and he is compelled to the place where the entropy grows to tantalize him. The moment taboo; alien to logic, unchangeable once committed to. Will he choose to intercede in the life cycle, and take the nectars?

He pulled his hand back, in logical withdrawal.

To see the drabbles in sequence, as they post, visit my fanfiction.net page!

And, if you’d like to learn more about Julie Duffy  and Story A Day May,  click the links and learn away!

Posted in Challenges and Contests, Flash Fiction Pieces, Story a Day May Challenge, Writers' Resources, Writing in Freedom, Writing Samples

Interrupted Trip for Story A Day May; Day Six

Interrupted Trip

Marilyn feels like she’s melting into the couch again – but she doesn’t want to be the couch, or have the couch be her, either, right now.

What she wants is a cigarette.

But damned Anna the cook thinks she runs the entire house, and she can smell smoke miles away. There’s nowhere inside where she won’t smell it, and it doesn’t even matter if Marilyn smokes cloves instead of tobacco.

She’s tried vaping, but it doesn’t work for her. The cold hard metal interrupts her trip. That’s no good – she can’t always find a guy to let her pay him for what she wants in sex. When she can, she doesn’t want to waste the high.

But today – today she’s got enough for a week’s worth of good trips, more if she’s careful. And she’s got a pack of cloves – if she smokes them outside, Anna will be none the wiser, and she’ll be able to pretend she’s in a Madagascar market or something else that’s exotic.

Somewhere – anywhere! – that’s not here.

Here, with a mother who wants nothing to do with her, because, “You remind me of that ass I married, who thought tropical waters were just fine to take a dip into.”

She wished Mom wouldn’t talk like that, when she was little. But, now – now that she’s growing up, Mom says she looks just like her damned father, sounds just like her damned father.

How is she supposed to not be like a father she can’t remember even ever having seen? A father who was gone out of her life before she was three years old?

Damn. She doesn’t want to think about that anymore.

She takes another hit, and heads to the front door. It’s going to be a great trip – a better than great trip. A damned vacation, right there in her own head, without ever living this damned house that Mom forbid her to leave.

She takes a deep breath, imagining she’s already filling her lungs with sweet clove smoke. It’s going to be a fantastic, one-of-a-kind trip.

Marilyn opens the door halfway, and it catches on something and won’t go further. She stares down. For a moment, she doesn’t understand. Her brain is ready for a trip, and it doesn’t include the dead body of her mother.

That’s an interruption her trip can’t recover from.

Has Marilyn really found her mother’s body?

Is this part of the trip?

Why was she forbidden to leave the house?

Any guesses?

Come back tomorrow for another installment, and we can explore this new story seed together!

Posted in Challenges and Contests, Story a Day May Challenge, Writing in Freedom, Writing Samples

Three Minutes for Story A Day May: Day Four

Three Minutes

Three minutes.

Marilyn sits on the toilet, the stick she’s just peed on still in her hand.

Three minutes.

That’s all she has to wait here in the marble-walled bathroom that looks like it belongs in a five-star hotel.

That’s an eternity.

She’s always felt like a stranger here.

She doesn’t want to set the stick down on the spotless, shining counter. She arranges the box so she can rest it there, and her fingers trail away, off to the zippered case that’s the only other thing in this room that truly belongs to her.

Or is it that she belongs to what’a in the case?

What difference does it make?

None, really.

What matters isn’t the stick, or what it says –

Well, okay, that does matter, more than a little.

It might change her life.

It might take her away from her zippered case, and what it holds.

But she’s got three minutes.

That’s time enough. She doesn’t know yet. It doesn’t matter that she’s sick all the time, peeing constantly, that her breasts hurt and her belly is heavy.

Until she reads that stick, she doesn’t know. She can do what she wants. Until she knows, she doesn’t have to worry about how anything will affect anyone but her. A baby isn’t real until she knows there’s going to be one, right?

“Of course it isn’t,” she answers herself, and her voicebounces around the room, and Marilyn imagines it leaving little dirty stains on every surface it touches.

She pulls the case to her without bothering to get off the toilet, or even pull up her pants. She opens it.

She still has two minutes.

What’s in Marilyn’s case?

Is it related to the potential baby?

What does the stick say?

Any guesses?

Come back tomorrow for another installment, and we can explore this new story seed together!